Doc­tors ready to fight bully med­i­cal aid schemes

Daily News - - NEWS - SNE MA­SUKU

A PRE­TO­RIA psy­chol­o­gist has joined the Ed­u­ca­tors Union of South Africa (Eusa) cam­paign to have the Govern­ment Med­i­cal Aid Scheme (Gems), one of the coun­try’s big­gest med­i­cal aid schemes, scrapped.

Dr Se­nathi Fisha said doc­tors were ready to crack the whip on med­i­cal aids such as Gems.

Govern­ment em­ploy­ees for­feit their med­i­cal aid sub­sidy if they choose to be­long to other med­i­cal aid schemes.

Tasked with col­lect­ing the com­plaints from doc­tors who were also fed up with the scheme and other med­i­cal aids in the coun­try, Fisha has her own score to set­tle with med­i­cal aids, too.

She was banned by Gems and Dis­cov­ery Med­i­cal Aid and ac­cused of cor­rup­tion, but not charged as she was cleared of the al­le­ga­tions.

“I was ac­cused of be­ing too ‘busy’. When you’re black and run a suc­cess­ful health-care fa­cil­ity, you at­tract a lot of at­ten­tion from med­i­cal aids. They in­ves­ti­gated me for hav­ing too many clients, only to find that I had about 10 doc­tors work­ing for me, which ex­plained the vol­ume of clients that I had. They found noth­ing on me, but they still didn’t want to work with me,” she ex­plained.

“The only thing stand­ing in the way of the suc­cess of doc­tors and health-care ser­vice de­liv­ery to the peo­ple of South Africa are med­i­cal aids who are bul­ly­ing doc­tors in or­der to dodge pay­ing for ser­vices ren­dered,” said Fisha.

Fisha said she be­came in­ter­ested in Eusa’s cam­paign be­cause she was aware of the chal­lenges faced by doc­tors, es­pe­cially black doc­tors.

She said things such as spy cam­eras and fake pa­tients were some of the tac­tics used by med­i­cal aids to vic­timise doc­tors.

“It is about time we ex­posed the con­stant abuse and bul­ly­ing that doc­tors ex­pe­ri­ence with med­i­cal aids. We are suf­fer­ing and treated like crim­i­nals,” she said. “Med­i­cal aids op­er­ate like a mo­nop­oly. Proper mon­i­tor­ing mech­a­nisms should be in place,” said Fisha.

Eusa lead­ers met the Gems prin­ci­pals last month to ta­ble some of the com­plaints by mem­bers, some of whom were ap­par­ently be­ing turned away by doc­tors who were re­fus­ing to work with Gems. The union also com­plained about mem­bers’ funds “dis­ap­pear­ing” and be­ing ex­hausted as early as Fe­bru­ary with­out ex­pla­na­tions.

Al­though Gems prin­ci­pal Dr Guni Goolab had promised to in­ves­ti­gate the mem­bers’ com­plaints, no res­o­lu­tions were made at the meet­ing.

Eusa pres­i­dent Is­sac Bhengu said that their cam­paign had led to more doc­tors and other stake­hold­ers com­ing for­ward with the chal­lenges they faced.

“We have writ­ten to the Com­pe­ti­tion Com­mis­sion and asked them to in­ter­vene in the un­fair com­pe­ti­tion in the med­i­cal aid sec­tor. We have also alerted the Min­is­ter of Public Ser­vants and Ad­min­is­tra­tion Ayanda Dlodlo for an ur­gent meet­ing,” said Bhengu.

Af­ter they were given a week to re­spond, the Med­i­cal Aid Scheme Coun­cil had not yet done so at the time of pub­li­ca­tion.

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